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Acupuncture Success Stories: Depression Symptoms and Stress Decrease

By Sara Calabro

We’re back with another edition of Acupuncture Success Stories. If you are unfamiliar with this series, read the introduction to the first installment to understand what it’s all about and why we’re doing it.

This time we have two success stories. The first is about a woman from Victoria, British Columbia who used community acupuncture to manage symptoms of depression. The second is about a Seattle-based writer who sought acupuncture for physical and emotional stress caused by too much computer use.

Acupuncture Success Story #1

Patient: Sheryl
Age: 30
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Acupuncturist: Jean-Paul Thuot

What initially brought you to acupuncture?

I was diagnosed with major depression in November 2012. I wasn’t having much success with my medication. It helped take a bit of the edge off, but I was still having daily episodes of sadness. I had started looking into other methods of managing depression, when I came across acupuncture.

I didn’t know anything about acupuncture other than that I was going to be poked with some needles. I lucked into attending an info session on community acupuncture with Jean-Paul at Stillpoint Community Acupuncture.

The session was a great introduction to how an acupuncturist goes about diagnosing and treating a person’s problems. He explained how acupuncture was a process, not a procedure. I wasn’t going to be cured after just one treatment. Rather, the effects from acupuncture are cumulative, so the more I go, the more it will help.

Fortunately, Stillpoint offers sliding scale payments, so although I would need to pay at the low end of the scale, I was assured that everyone gets the same type of treatment no matter what they pay. I booked my first appointment the next day.

Did your first experience with acupuncture line up with your expectations?

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I understood that with community acupuncture there would be a lot of people being treated in the same room and that I could control how long I wanted my treatment to last. I filled out an intake form and spent some time speaking in private with my acupuncturist about why I was there and what I expected—depression, insomnia, and anxiety where my top three reasons for being there.

After that, my acupuncturist took me into Acu Land, the name of the community room there. There were three or four other people in the room already in recliner chairs. I found a chair to sit in. There was a little basket beside my chair in which I placed all my personal items. The acupuncturist put in the needles. I closed my eyes and started to relax.

I’m not sure how long into the session it was, but at some point I started to get teary. I knew exactly what it was when it happened, because this is part of my depression. My acupuncturist came over and checked on me, and I explained quietly that this is something that happens to me. He suggested, if I was okay, that I stay for the rest of the treatment. He said I was in a safe place and that my crying wasn’t bothering anyone.

It took about five minutes for my tears to stop. I was told that I slept for about an hour after that. When the needles came out, we discussed what had happened and went over a treatment plan. I felt a lot better when I left than when I first came in. I felt good enough to want to come back so that I could start feeling better more often and for longer.

How has acupuncture helped you resolve the symptoms that initially brought you in the door?

When I first started acupuncture, I was counting the number of times in a day when I had depressive episodes. Now I’m counting the days in between episodes. Currently, my longest stretch has been eight days without an episode. I still get upset, but my sadness is not nearly as dark and deep as it was before.

I rate how I feel each morning—one being dark and crappy, and 10 being the best I’ve ever felt in my life. I was averaging a four when I started acupuncture. Now I’m averaging a six. (A normal me would feel like an eight.) Also, the people I work with have noticed a drastic improvement in my mood, which has made going to work a lot easier.

Every acupuncture treatment has helped me get better. Sometimes the effects are immediate and during the session. Other times I notice that it’s been a few days since I’ve felt bed.

Acupuncture alone—the actual needle part—is not the only reason I’m getting better. The people who work at the clinic I attend have helped me improve my depression symptoms. I am always treated like I’m important. When I come in and tell the acupuncturists everything that’s gone wrong with me since the last appointment, I sometimes feel like I’m just complaining. The acupuncturist reminds me that it’s not complaining, that it is appropriate for me to go over everything that has happened so he can plan the next treatment.

I look forward to acupuncture because I get to be around nice people who love helping others. I find myself more and more counting the days until my next appointment rather than only counting the days between episodes. I am always excited about getting my next treatment, even if I’m having a really rough day. I know I will feel better after I go.

What other benefits or side effects have you noticed from your acupuncture treatments?

My depressed thoughts have lessened considerably. In addition, my energy is up. I used to be tired all the time and now my energy level is nearly back to normal. My back pain has lessened. I am less anxious and nervous.

My memory is still not great but it has been much better since I started acupuncture. I still have to write things down but I’m able to remember them without having to look at my notes as often. This in turn is helping me rebuild my confidence.

How has acupuncture helped you view your physical or emotional health differently?

I started looking for help with my depression in hopes that one day I will be well enough to avoid medication. I know that if I hadn’t been diagnosed with depression I never would have found Stillpoint Community Acupuncture. I hate being depressed, but I love what acupuncture has done for my life and what the people at the clinic have done for me. I wouldn’t give up my experiences there.

Acupuncture Success Story #2

Patient: Dean
Age: 36
Location: Seattle, Washington
Profession: Writer
Acupuncturist: Lis Goldschmidt (in San Francisco)

What initially brought you to acupuncture?

Stress, anxiety, and hip/back pain caused by working too much at a computer. I’ve also seen acupuncturists to help with other issues, including working on an incision after surgery to reduce scarring.

Did your first experience with acupuncture line up with your expectations?

My first experiences with acupuncture were great. I felt immediate relaxation, relief from stress, and pain reduction.

How has acupuncture helped you resolve the symptoms that initially brought you in the door?

Acupuncture has been very effective for stress and anxiety. And it’s a wonderful tool for reducing the symptoms that can accompany these things, such as sleep loss, racing thoughts, and body pain.

Acupuncture also worked wonders on my incision scar. I’ve met several people who’ve had the same surgery and my scar is always the least pronounced. I believe it is because I had acupuncture treatments during the first few months of healing.

What other benefits or side effects have you noticed from your acupuncture treatments?

Relaxation and a sense of wellbeing.

How has acupuncture helped you view your physical or emotional health differently?

Acupuncture helped me look at my health more holistically, to see the relationships between physical pain, emotional stress, diet, sleep, and attitude. Acupuncturists view health so differently than the other doctors I have worked with. They approach health in a way that makes me feel much more empowered to change my quality of life.

Interested in sharing your own acupuncture success story? Great! Send us an email at contact@acutakehealth.com. (Acupuncturists, tell your patients! If they’re selected, your name and a link to your practice/directory profile will appear with the article.)

Photo by Sara Calabro

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Comments

Ashley Flores
Reply

I wish more people realized how effective acupuncture and East Asian medicine can be for anxiety and depression. It is great to hear these stories from the patients’ perspective. Thank you.

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